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Sour Meetings

Comedian Dave Berry has said, “If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be meetings.”

Board meetings can be acrimonious, and in some instances, they can go overboard. The headline of a recent Walpole, Massachusetts newspaper article reads: “Fight between Walpole selectmen cuts meeting short.” The first sentence of the article stated, “Selectmen came to verbal blows on Tuesday night, prompting other board members to cut the meeting short as two of their colleagues took the altercation outside.”

“I’ve seen board meetings where people yelled at each other, which is very inappropriate, And then they may bring cursing to the table. I’ve had meetings where people lunged across the table at each other, or almost came to fisticuffs,” says Cynthia Graffeo, senior property manager at Argo Management in Manhattan.

In his book, “The perfect Board,” author Calvin Clemens writes, “The Perfect Board” is probably a goal that can never be reached. “Given the manner in which people work with one another, it is doubtful that consistent harmony can be achieved,” he writes. “But maybe that is the goal. Working together, moving the organization forward, instead of individual or selfish pursuits.”

Effective meetings need to be planned in order to be effective. “The preparation for a successful meeting begins with the managing agent,” says Peter von Simson, the chief executive officer of New York City-based New Bedford Management Corp. “Two or three business days before the meeting, the agent should circulate a proposed agenda to all participants. At this point, topics can be added or removed as participants would like and time allows. The agenda for a monthly board meeting, he explains, “should have an overview of the building financials as a cover page to the agenda. The financial overview should include all bank balances, cash flow with Actual vs. Budget, an arrears report as well as an open payables report.

“The agent and whomever else is responsible for a topic on the agenda should come prepared and ready to speak about their item and should bring handouts/proposals for everyone attending the meeting, “ von Simson suggests.

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